Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home Sales Drop Again... Big Time...

Sales of previously-owned homes dropped last month by almost 10%. The lowest level in almost a decade:

Fewer Americans bought previously occupied homes in February and those who did purchased them at steep discounts. The weak sales and rise in foreclosures pushed home prices down to their lowest level in nearly 9 years.

More info here:

At February's sales pace, the supply of existing homes represented an 8.6 months' supply, up from 7.5 in January. A supply of between six and seven months is generally considered ideal, with higher readings pointing to lower house prices.

"Inventory is still high, about a third higher than it was pre-recession. We are not going to see any bounce back in new home sales until the inventory of existing home sales gets worked down," said Steve Blitz, a senior economist at ITG Investment Research in New York.

"We don't even know what the inventory is. We see a visible supply but then there is a shadow supply that comes on and off the market depending on the time of the year. It's still a morbid market on a national level."

New home sales dropped to a new low, down almost 17%:
...the Census Bureau confirms that sales of new homes has hit another record low in the 48 years that the US government has tracked this economic indicator, sliding to an annual sales rate of 250,000.

It hasn't been this bad since... the year I was born (a loooong time ago):

That marked the lowest number of units sold since 1963, when records began.

At the current rate it would take almost nine months for the all the new homes on the US market to be sold -- if no more homes are built.

The biggest slowdown in turnover was seen in the country's populous northeast, with sales down 57 percent from January.

"Nothing good can be said about the February report," said Steven Ricchiuto, an economist with Mizuho describing it as "several times worse that the markets expected."

The One Goes To War... Without Congressional Approval...

Ace has some commentary here and here on The One's decision to go to war against Libya.

Congress (including Democrats) is miffed (as well they should be) since The One did not seek Congressional approval (as is necessary under a certain insignificant document called the U.S. Constitution):

Article 1, Section 8:
"The Congress shall have Power To...declare War"

The One even continues to flip-flop on Gaddafi.

Add this to the Egypt fiasco and you have what Flopping Aces and RedState both see as Jimmy Carter 2.0.

Meanwhile, back to Libya... let's see what Mr. Foot-in-Mouth (aka, VP Biden) has to say about Presidents going to war without Congressional approval:

I'm just waiting for #2 to lead the charge on that impeachment process.

Any day, Joe...... any day......... annnnny day......

Friday, March 18, 2011



California's economic mess (it's been building since the early Gray Davis years).

The Michigan Democrats plot to put fake Tea Party candidates on ballots was a major FAIL.

Alan Grenstan admits that the stimulus plans did not help with the economic recovery, and actually hurt it.

Hedge Funds and Junk Bonds... again... OH MY!

In the first two years of The One's term in office, he did not meet with half a dozen of his own Cabinet members!!!

And, about those ObamaCare waivers that are now over 700 companies and 2.2 million employees (and growing).

Flopping Aces has commentary on The One's quote about it being so much easier to be a leader China.

Europe, in general, gets a clue and allows crucifixes in classrooms.

And, on a tangent... what about increasing brain power and memory ability?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hump Day Mish-Mash...

Wholesale prices increased in February at their fastest rate in over a year and a half, while housing starts dropped to their lowest level in 27 years. More info here.

The markets are down for the third straight day after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. At this moment, and Dow and S&P are off 6% and the Nasdaq is off 7.5% from their recent highs.

How about some electronic pickpocketing.

"If I'm walking through a crowd, I get near people's back pocket and their wallet, I just need to be this close to it and there's my credit card and expiration date on the screen," says Augustinowicz demonstrating how easily cards containing RFID can be hacked.
How about WMDs found... IN THE USA!

Or federal agents being told to allow weapons into Mexico, and then being used against Americans.

The problems with government (and cooky environmental) regulations causing plumbing problems.

Light bulb issues, too. Rand Paul asks an interesting question.

Sometimes Moore is less (heh!).

Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Thrashabout...

Questions abound on whether we're about to see another bubble burst. AP business writers say this:

After two bubbles in the past 10 years — tech stocks and real estate — investors are suspicious of consistent gains that seem too good to be true. Some worry that the Fed's dramatic measures to pump up the economy mean the market's gains are an illusion. But a range of measurements suggest the market isn't in the midst of a bubble now. Instead, the stock market may simply be back to normal.

Really??? They continue:

One sign of a bubble would be if stocks rose far beyond what's normal by historical standards, says Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group. By that measure, it's not happening yet. According to Stone's research, since 1928, the average bull market runs almost five years and gains 164 percent. By comparison, this bull market has barely hit middle age.

Why does he say that? Earlier in the article it's stated that:

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index is in its fastest climb since 1955, doubling since the market bottomed on March 9, 2009. In January and February alone, it's up 5.5 percent.

Hmmm... let me get this straight. It's only been a little over two years into this "bull" market, so you can't make any assumptions yet. [CORRECTION] Even though in just TWO year the S&P doubled (that's a 100% increase). That, stretched over a 5-year span would mean a 250% increase. Which is WAY more than the 164% average.

Here's even more:

Judged by other measures of value, the companies that make up the S&P 500 look rich. Investors are paying 24 times inflation-adjusted earnings over the last decade. The historical average is 16. That ratio could climb if people push stock prices higher because they expect earnings to catch up. But Arnott believes people are already underestimating larger problems ahead. The U.S. government's $14 trillion in debt and a greater share of the work force hitting retirement are both bound to drag down economic growth. "That's quite a hurricane," he says.


...investor Jeremy Grantham, chief investment strategist of GMO... [states] If the S&P 500, at 1,321 on Friday, climbs to 1,500 by October, then watch out. At that point, he says, "it will be a market looking for an excuse to go. On the first piece of really bad news, it will make a determined effort to tank."

Several recent studies suggest that the new jobs pay less and offer fewer work hours than the ones they have replaced...

Lower-wage industries -- things like retail and food preparation -- accounted for 23 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, but 49 percent of the jobs gained over the last year, a recent study by the National Employment Law Project found. Higher-wage industries, by contrast, accounted for 40 percent of the jobs lost, but just 14 percent of the jobs gained. In other words, low paying jobs are increasing as a percentage of total jobs, while high-paying jobs are on the decline.

• Meanwhile, the percentage of those working who have part-time jobs and want full-time ones surged in mid-February to 19.6 percent -- almost as high as it was a year ago before the recovery began, according to Gallup numbers. That suggests, of course, that a large number of the new jobs created over the last year are part-time.

• And a recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that even though productivity rose 5.2 percent from mid 2009 to the end of 2010, wages increased by just 0.3 percent. That means only 6 percent of productivity gains were shared with workers. In past recoveries, that figure has averaged 58 percent. This time around, far more of the gains went to shareholders, in the form of profits, which are at record levels.

Spain's been downgraded by Moody, meanwhile. And the stock market took a hit today.


3/15 UPDATE: Looks like a massive natural disaster in Japan has pushed the markets back down. The Dow is off it's recent 12418 high to 11798 (a 5% drop). The S&P was at 1344, and is now at 1296 (a 4% drop). Oil is at $98/barrel (it reached $105 last week). And even Gold dropped to under $1400 (its high was $1430).

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It's Ash Wednesday...

"Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Jobs, the lack thereof, and food you can't afford...

In January, jobless claims jumped and wholesale food costs begin to go up big.

Hiring fell short of expectations. (...unexpectedly...)

Eric (via Zero Hedge) went into the labor numbers here:

At 64.2%, the labor force participation rate (as a percentage of the total civilian noninstitutional population) is now at a fresh 26 year low, the lowest since March 1984, and is the only reason why the unemployment rate dropped to 9%...

...Those not in the Labor Force has increased from 83.9 million to 86.2 million, or 2.2 million in one year!

ObamaCare will cost us yet another 800,000 jobs.

Then, the Obomination Administration and the Mainstream Media try to boast about the recent unemployment numbers.

Clarity is needed, here.

Eric, yet again, goes thru the real numbers.

Global food prices are the highest in 20 years and could increase further because of rising oil prices stemming from the unrest in Libya and the Mideast, a U.N. agency warned Thursday.

Skyrocketing food prices have been among the triggers for protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, and raised fears of a repeat of the food price crises in 2007 and 2008...

The Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement that its food price index was up 2.2 percent last month, the highest level since January 1990 when the agency started monitoring prices.

It also was the eighth consecutive month that food prices had risen, the Rome-based agency said. In January, the index had already registered a record peak.

The increase was driven mostly by higher prices of cereals, meat and dairy products, FAO said. Sugar was the only commodity of the groups being monitored whose price hadn't risen.

Global oil prices, which increased on concerns about the potential impact of supply disruptions following unrest in Libya, are a crucial variable...

Oil prices affect food markets in many ways, from production to transport costs. When oil prices are high, there is a bigger incentive to produce alternative fuels such as ethanol, which is made from crops such as corn. Increasing demand for alternative fuels made from crops drives up food prices.


NPR = Narcissistic Progressive Radicals...

So, on March 7 NPR's CEO Vivian Schiller claimed (on video) that:

"...NPR has 'no particular bias.' During the hour-long coverage on C-SPAN2, Mrs. Schiller repeats her evaluation that NPR is a bi-partisan news agency and that their reporting is 'ethical.'”

On March 8, Project Veritas released a hidden video of NPR Senior Executive Ron Schiller (no relation) saying things like this:

In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Apparently, it was publicly announced last week that Ron Schiller was leaving NPR in May. But the video was filmed on Feb 22 (three weeks ago). Ronny is now on administrative leave. (My non-liberal heart bleeds.)

Poor Ron is also apparently not taking on his new position at the Aspen Institute.

Vivian, meanwhile, has quit NPR over the incident. But this isn't the first issue that has haunted Viv. She was the one that fired liberal journalist Juan Williams last year:

Vivian Schiller was criticized for last year's firing of analyst Juan Williams after he said on Fox News that he feels uncomfortable when he sees people in "Muslim garb" on airplanes. She later said she was sorry for the way she handled Williams' dismissal but stood by her decision to fire him.

Juan Williams had PLENTY to say about the nasty culture at NPR.

As Ron Schiller said in that hidden video:

"NPR 'would be better off in the long-run without Federal funding.'”

Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it.


3/10 UPDATE: Seems NPR was also willing to hide from the federal government the fact that the money they'd receive from the sting was from a Muslim Brotherhood front group. OUCH! That's gotta hurt.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bernanke's An Idiot...

You probably already knew that, but his latest utterance kinda seals the deal on that sentiment for me:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered a fairly upbeat assessment of the economy on Tuesday, saying the recent surge in oil prices is unlikely to have a major effect on growth or inflation as long as higher prices do not become sustained.

Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee he saw increasing evidence that the economic recovery has enough momentum to become self-supporting. But job growth remains far too anemic, he said...

... "We do see some grounds for optimism about the job market over the next few quarters," Bernanke said, citing a steep recent decline in the jobless rate among other factors.

Bernanke said downside risks to growth had diminished and, for the first time, stated that the risk of deflation was now "negligible." The threat of deflation, a downward spiral in wages and prices that could derail the economy, was a key justification for the Fed's bond-buying spree...

... [Bernanke] reiterated a warning that a failure by Congress to raise the government's debt ceiling could lead to a debt default that would have dire consequences for the economy.

"It would be extremely dangerous and very likely a recovery-ending event," he said.

You're kidding me, right? Rising oil prices won't have an effect on the economy? And, just at this moment, oil passed $100/barrel. The only things not in inflation mode are housing (because that bogus bubble burst, and the stale air from that false inflation is still deflating), and wages (how many of you who had wages cut in recent years have gotten any of that back - even partially?). Unemployment has not really recovered. And raising the debt ceiling - AGAIN - would be a friggin' disaster.

Yeah... okay.

No, Bernanke, we are NOT in a deflationary mode, nor were we threatened to be getting into one. INflation and HYPER-inflation, quite likely. Almost certainly STAGflation, with wages and unemployment stuck, and fuel/energy and food prices skyrocketing.

Let's read the definition of Stagflation on WikiPedia, shall we?:

Economists offer two principal explanations for why stagflation occurs. First, stagflation can result when the productive capacity of an economy is reduced by an unfavorable supply shock, such as an increase in the price of oil for an oil importing country. Such an unfavorable supply shock tends to raise prices at the same time that it slows the economy by making production more costly and less profitable.

Second, both stagnation and inflation can result from inappropriate macroeconomic policies. For example, central banks can cause inflation by permitting excessive growth of the money supply, and the government can cause stagnation by excessive regulation of goods markets and labor markets, Either of these factors can cause stagflation. Excessive growth of the money supply taken to such an extreme that it must be reversed abruptly can clearly be a cause. Both types of explanations are offered in analyses of the global stagflation of the 1970s: it began with a huge rise in oil prices, but then continued as central banks used excessively stimulative monetary policy to counteract the resulting recession, causing a runaway wage-price spiral.

Just keep printing more dollars, Benji. That, plus more federal regulations, and rising oil prices will do the trick... make everything all hunky-dorey. Nothing to see behind the curtain... look away, look away.


Yep! Just as I had expected. Jimmy Carter 2.0.